(By Chambwa Moonga in Mansa)
CHIEF Chisunka of the Ushi people of Mansa district has told Bahati PF member of parliament Harry Kalaba that “blood is thicker than water” and that he should not fear visiting his palace.
When the Democratic Party 2021 presidential candidate Harry Kalaba paid a courtesy call on him on Monday, Chisunka regretted that Zambia had reached a point where its politics was just anchored on scorn.
“But I like your stance because I have never heard you insulting a fellow politician. That’s why you are apt for a royal son because I don’t read about you insulting in newspapers like others do. I even feel proud that you detach yourself from engaging into political insults,” Chisunka told Kalaba.
“When you come to visit me like this and other people opt to put me on the spot about why I welcome you, in your own constituency, then that somebody will just be looking for something else.”
Chisunka observed that it was not right for chiefs to welcome somebody from the opposition and later be coerced by ruling party operatives or the government to denounce that person.
“It’s better that we just guide you because we are here, as chiefs, to spearhead peace. So, don’t be afraid of visiting any chief. It doesn’t matter the opposition you are giving to the government, come and visit and we will guide where you are overstepping the mark,” Chisunka said.
“Don’t start fearing us, chiefs. I didn’t become a chief to come and start discriminating against certain people. It doesn’t matter how they (ruling party leaders) push me against the wall, I will not consent. When they (those in the government) go wrong, I tell them and I will do the same when you err.”
The traditional leader recalled that when the MMD was in power, “I never barred PF officials from visiting my palace.”
“How can I now start barring opposition political leaders? You should be proud to be here, otherwise people will start mocking us that he (Kalaba) is going to Eastern, Southern, Western provinces but he can’t visit where he hails from. They will think we have disowned you, when in fact not. We have not disowned you; blood is thicker than water. No one can disown their own child!” said Chisunka.
“It pains me that wherever you go, there are attempts to block you. Those are not the politics we want to see. To my fellow chiefs, I want to say that uusunga umunankwe teshibikwa iyo (he who keeps another cannot be predicted.)”
Earlier, Kalaba accused the ruling PF rank and file of being hell-bent on arm-twisting chiefs who welcome opposition political leaders.
He said the PF leadership seemed to be forgetting that “I’m a son of the soil and there is no palace I can fail to go to in Ushiland.”
“Now it’s like if you go to your parents, the PF doesn’t want chiefs like you to welcome even a royal son like me. You go to visit a chief and the moment you leave they start pressuring the chief! It annoys me that my parents are being arm-twisted once I have visited their palace,” Kalaba complained.
“Once I pay a courtesy call on a chief, the next thing is forcing the chief I visited to write and a read a letter to denounce me on TV. Chilendetela ubulanda nomwenso ukutila abafyashi besu abafwile ukuba bakafumba nomba bayamba ukutina ubuteko (it gives me anxiety and fear that our parents who are supposed to be advisors are now afraid of the government.) It’s God who grants chieftaincy and not the government – chieftaincy is from blood and you will die with it.”
Kalaba indicated that it was like his visits to Chisunka’s palace were being misconstrued to mean “chief Chisunka is supporting Kalaba.”
“I do hear about all sorts of machinations [by the PF] to drive a wedge between me and you. Batila mwikala patalala mwine apatalalika (they say he who wants peace creates conditions for such.) But the truth, your royal highness, is that this [political] journey I have embarked on is not about going to one palace. It’s a journey for the entire country,” Kalaba explained.
And Kalaba lamented that the agriculture sector in Zambia could not post tangible gains with the government’s current half-hearted approach.
“We are in December but abantu tabalapoka umufundo nembuto shakuti babyale (people have not received fertiliser and seeds to plant!) Nomba ubulimi bwalaya shani pantanshi (how can farming succeed?) It never used to be like this under Dr Kaunda’s regime! People used to receive farming inputs in October in the Kaunda regime. But agriculture today has collapsed because even the price at which the government is buying produce from farmers is negligible! How can agriculture succeed like that?” Kalaba wondered.
“But when I highlight such matters, there is a backlash that ‘Kalaba isn’t talking positively, he is a rebel.’ I’m not a rebel, your royal highness.”
He called government officials mandated to effectively run agriculture, but were failing, as “rebels.”
“Rebels are those who have failed to distribute fertiliser and seeds up to today. Rebels are those who are short-changing farmers in terms of the prices of their produce. All they want is self-enrichment,” said Kalaba.
Kalaba was accompanied by DP national treasurer Justine Nkonge and Mansa Central Constituency’s Chilyapa ward PF councillor Chewe Ndila.